Military leadership, Mattis defend protester rights amid Trump threat to send troops

“We all committed our lives to the idea that is America,” Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote by hand at the end of a memo about the military’s defense of all Americans, and their constitutional right to protest. “We will stay true to that oath and the American people.”

The June 2 memo was sent to all service members and made public on Wednesday by the Joint Chiefs in a tweet.

“Every member of the U.S. military swears an oath to support and defend the Constitution and the values embedded within it,” Milley wrote. “This document is founded on the essential principles that all men and women are born free and equal and should be treated with respect and dignity. It also gives Americans the right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.”